Democracy and Education
As we approach Election Day, we are being faced with historic decisions. The results of the presidential race will have consequences beyond the next four years. Here in Oregon, voters will have a chance to influence the future of generations of children, the elderly and people with health needs. Measure 97, which would tax the largest corporations doing more than $25 million in business in Oregon, could reverse the trend of the last 25 years of disinvestment in schools, seniors and health care programs in our state.
Income inequality has become one of the biggest threats to our democracy, and Bernie Sanders’ campaign has focused young people’s attention on the future like no other campaign has done. Young people, who have the most to gain, have supported Bernie’s call for restructuring our tax system in order to fund the neglected needs of the 99 percent.
Measure 97 is putting into practice what Bernie has called for and what the Democratic Party has included in its platform. The country is watching us. Can the popular will of the majority trump corporate interests and turn the country around? Our Revolution, Bernie’s national organization, has endorsed 97 and is working hard to pass it.
It’s no wonder the largest corporations in the world are pouring money into Oregon in an attempt to hoodwink voters once again into voting against their own legitimate interests. They have already raised close to $20 million to use in the campaign of lies and misinformation against Measure 97.
Comcast is spending close to half a million dollars while at the same time trying to avoid paying $120 million in back taxes. It has also begun refusing to accept or to show Yes on 97 ads if they include any mention of its company. This is the same company that made $8 billion last year and that has been fined $2.3 million by the FCC for charging customers for stuff they never ordered.
Wells Fargo is contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat Measure 97 just days after having been hit with a $180 million fine for cheating its customers out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Monsanto — remember its role in defeating the GMO-labeling initiative? — is also contributing large sums of money to defeat Measure 97. Monsanto’s GMO campaign was so successful that the public relations firm that helped it defeat the GMO labeling initiative is now running the No on 97 campaign.
Just as Donald Trump brags about not paying taxes because it’s a good business practice, these corporations are fighting for their opportunity to pocket record profits. Their argument that this is a hidden sales tax and that the average Joe will be hurt is part of their disinformation campaign. As a matter of fact, many of these corporations support an Oregon sales tax so that the ordinary people will pay instead of them.
The story of huge classes, short school years and low graduation rates parallels the fall in the share of corporate taxes sent to the state’s coffers. Oregon has the lowest business taxes in the country and it shows. A generation ago, business taxes made up close to 20 percent of the state budget. Today the business sector pays only around 6 percent of the cost of public education and other state services. If we don’t turn this around, their share is projected to drop to close to 4 percent.
Don’t be fooled by corporate propaganda. Just do it and Vote Yes on 97.